Friday, June 20, 2003

Electability, again

Let me be clear about something: I am not going to disparage Kerry supporters for their doubts. I can understand those doubts. We desperately want to defeat Bush. We don't want to put up an opponent that he can easily defeat. But that is precisely why I support Dean over Kerry. As far as I can tell, looking at the entire field, Dean is the only one that rises, in my view, to the status of being "electable". Let me put it another way: I am tired of political campaigns that are based more on the fear of what might happen. I am more interested in supporting a campaign that is about pushing the agenda instead of merely reacting to it. I have been online for nearly 20 years. I was an early participant in Usenet online discussions. I can remember that I used to go out of my way to compose posts that people could not misunderstand. I would put caveats everywhere. I would qualify everything I said. I would try not to offend ANYONE's sensibilities. The result was a rambling mess of posts that bored people much more than it informed them. I actually got into the top 25 posters ranking for a few weeks running. But most of what I wrote was completely useless shit because no one wanted to read it. And guess what? Despite all my best efforts, people STILL misunderstood them. People were STILL offended by them. It was then I realized something: you can't prevent people from misinterpreting what you say. You can't prevent opponents from distorting your position. The best you can do is present your opinions in as clear and concise a fashion as possible and then be prepared to rebut the attacks and clarify the misunderstandings AFTER THE FACT. The Democrats, in my opinion, are dominated by an attitude that says they have to find the perfect candidate who is immune to criticism, will never make mistakes and will appeal to everyone. I'm here to tell you that it ain't gonna happen folks. If we waste time worrying about how our message might be distorted and abused then we will get no where (i.e., exactly where we are now). What we need now is a damn-the-torpedoes approach that does not run away from potential conflicts but, instead, relishes them (see previous post). Howard Dean has taken positions that established analysts insist are political suicide. But those positions have brought him to within breathing distance of bumping off the nominal front-runners in the nomination. Why should we then listen to those self-same analysts when they say that, even if Dean were to win the nomination, he has no chance of beating Bush? The "electability" meme is one that should be taken out, shot, drawn, quartered, hung from a tree, burned at the stake, buried to its neck in and anthill and left to rot in the sun until nothing is left but bare white bones (and then those should be ground up and scattered to the four winds). Success requires a thousand handmaidens. Defeat will take care of itself.

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